Reverend Deadeye - great name, great backstory.
A preacherman’s son who lost an eye to a rattlesnake. He spends his time preaching the blues to lost sinners in late night waterholes like our own Crane Lane Theatre. And he must have found a few in Cork, as this is the third night here on the trot. Or else paying gigs for working musicians these days must be hard to come by.
Wednesday, close to midnight and the city is miserable in the rain, but there is at least some life in the Crane. It’s hard to say if many folk are here to see the Reverend, and looks like he’s waiting it out as long as possible. Still, he’s got an attractive merch display – alongside the expected records and t-shirts, there are pages from the bible, ornately hand-decorated with snakes, skulls and naked ladies, placed in old picture frames. Even a few customised neckties, with more snakes. And a big suitcase with the legend REVEREND DEADEYE upon and a snake slithering right up a crucifix. Looks like it doubles as a bass drum, along with a trashcan lid with a couple of tambourines hung over it as some other kind of kickdrum. A bit beside that is a disembodied mannequin hand atop a hi hat. They go nicely with the beer can mic and the guitar customised with an entirely necessary saucepan lid. This guy’s DIY – or make-and-do – credentials are in check.
So here comes the one man band, and we know what to expect: it should be lo-fi, trashy, banging out a blues/gospel mix. And it is. He starts the set with a nice trick, plays the first song blindfolded with his own necktie, and still manages to get through the song in one piece.
I’m kind of disappointed when he takes the blindfold off for the second song… and the disappointment doesn’t stop there.
Don’t get me wrong – this is definitely gospel – in that the songs start with a promising flourish, then settle into a lot of not-a-whole-pile-happening except the lines being repeated and the boom-tish boom-tish beat that keeps on going. No matter how nicely messed up the guitar sound is, there’s not much interesting being done with it. Dammit, I really wanted to like this.
The beat keeps the late night crowd out and dancing, but when it comes to the one man band, it’s been done better: Jawbone has the Dang Blues; Bob Log III has the humour and the headgear; the lonesome organist kept it interesting with keyboards, drums and accordian.
There are some highlights like ‘Take my Lord’, and when he starts playing his guitar a bit, towards the end of the set. Also we get treated to some harmonica towards the end. (He had a harmonica?? All along!) The Rev’s greatest strength is likely his preaching lyrics but they’re hard to make out, and for a preacher that probably matters, right? A few lines show a bit of humour, like “I’m drunk on Jesus” (as he swigs back frothy beer) and “Jesus, I hear you knockin.. but you can’t come in”. With downtime between each number as he fixes his kit, I was hoping for a better line of banter. After the first howdy, there’s not a word between songs. Maybe he’s tired.
I bet this guy would be great fronting a posse of musicians, let him get out and do what he does best, putting his voice more out there with his rhythm guitar beside a banjo or a fiddle, and a drummer pounding away at the back. I could see that working: but tonight this just doesn’t work for me.
Forgive me, Reverend. but I’m going home.